Edmonton Election 2017: Lack of ‘serious’ mayoral challenger could weaken voter turnout, says political blogger

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What does lackluster election mean for those looking for change?
WATCH ABOVE: With the lack of a robust mayoral race in Edmonton, what does that mean for residents looking for an alternative? Vinesh Pratap reports – Oct 10, 2017

With less than a week to go until Edmontonians vote in a new city council, a popular Alberta political writer says he doesn’t believe the mayoral race is generating very much voter interest and that could impact the whole election to some degree.

“The mayoral election typically drives voter turnout so usually, what we see in years where there’s competitive mayoral elections with strong candidates running real campaigns, we typically see voter turnout as a whole, higher,” Dave Cournoyer, the political blogger behind, told Global News on Tuesday.

“So far, out of Iveson’s competitors, it seems that the two most high-profile competitors have been one candidate who talked about bringing back smoking in public places and another candidate who became notable for simply not showing up to election forums,” he said. “So there’s no real serious challenger in this mayoral election.”

Cournoyer said he believes the incumbent running for mayor, Don Iveson, is the only one of 13 candidates for the top job at city hall who is running a serious campaign. He also said that may account for less-than packed houses at mayoral candidate forums this fall.

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READ MORE: Mayoralty debates this campaign are going to be hard to find

“I think if you look back four years ago at what was perceived to be a more competitive race between Don Iveson, Karen Leibovici and Kerry Diotte, there was a higher turnout at these kind of events (mayoral forums) because… at certain points in the campaign, it didn’t seem clear who would be mayor, which is a big role in a city like Edmonton,” Cournoyer said. “In this election, it seems very clear that Don Iveson – barring something catastrophic – will be re-elected.”

READ MORE: 2013 voter turnout slightly up from last Edmonton election

Twitter Canada’s head of news and government partnerships said an analysis of her company’s social media platform also indicates Iveson is likely headed to another term as mayor.

“Taking a look at Twitter and the hashtags #yegvote and #yegcc, all signs point to Don Iveson winning a second term but ultimately, that’s up to voters who turn up to vote on election day,” Jennifer Hollett told Global News on Tuesday.

“Iveson falls into the top five mayors in regards to followers in all of Canada and he’s number two in Alberta,” she added. “So not only does he have the incumbent advantage, he’s someone who really understands Twitter and engages with constituents there on a regular basis.”

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During the first six days of advance voting, 8,495 votes were cast, including 1,254 on Thanksgiving Monday. In 2013, 8,438 citizens cast a ballot over the first days of advance voting, but voting stations weren’t open on Thanksgiving.

READ MORE: Edmonton election 2017: Advance voting numbers down

“The mayoral election is typically the election that gets the most attention in the media and the most attention for voters as well,” Cournoyer said. “So it will be very interesting to see if there is a lower voter turnout on election day.

“I hope voter turnout is high, but if turnout does end up being low – as many people are speculating – it will be interesting to see how that impacts, or if that has any impact, on some of the city council elections where some city councillors are running for re-election and whether that will have an impact on incumbents running for city council.”

Election day is Monday, Oct. 16 and polls are open between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.

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